By Samantha Meyer
With the start of the 2019 school year comes the start of the Cleveland State University women’s cross country season.
This weekend at the Tommy Evans Invitational, hosted by the University of Akron, Junior Anna Brandt led the team with a time of 18:12, finishing fourth in the same event for the second year in a row. This year, she bested her time by seven seconds, beating her time of 18:19 from the 2018 meet. Brandt was able to make a big move late in the race.
“I was trying to go fast and stay out front as much as I could,” Brandt said. “A little past the first mile I got into a clump with a couple of other girls. I tried to stay with them for the whole race. Once I passed the two mile mark, I knew I had a small loop left on the course, and I wanted to get past as many people as I could.”
Brandt was able to pass two girls in the final 400 meters to secure her fourth-place finish. The rest of the team came out and ran with their hearts. Senior and team captain Olivia Hammons crossed the finish line second for the Vikings. She finished with a time of 19:46, finishing 44th overall. Hammons felt good during the race and running near her teammates helped motivate her.
“I felt good physically. Mentally, I was a little nervous,” Hammons said. “During the race, I was struggling a little bit after the first mile, but being close to my teammates helped me get through the race.”
Freshman Hannah Korte finished in 53rd with a time of 20:04. The next four Vikings to cross the finish line finished within 11 places of each other. Freshman Haley Rozeski finished 57th with a time of 20:08, sophomore Grace Holmes finished 63rd with a time of 20:28, freshman Zoe Lexovsky finished 67th with a time of 20:40 and sophomore Lily Michael finished 67th with a time of 20:42.
The Vikings dedicate their success to second-year head coach, Jason Hudson, who, in his first year, led the girls to an eighth place finish with one All-League first teammer at the Horizon League Championship.
“Workouts are tough but manageable,” said Brandt. “He has a way of making it seem like it’s going to be hard, but then it turns out to be a totally manageable workout. It really boosts our confidence and makes us feel ready to race.”
With a young team, Hudson knows there are areas of improvement for everyone. With three of the four freshman placing in the top seven for the team, Hudson looks hopeful for the future of this season as well as the program.
“This outing was much better than last weeks,” Hudson said. “A lot of people struggle the middle of the race, and as we continue to train, that’s where we’re going to get better.”
This result comes after a good showing at the Queen City Invitational the week before. Brant was able to post a top 20 finish with a time of 18:32. Korte and fellow freshman Emily Nemeth both finished in the top half of the field. Nemeth finished in 54th with a time of 19:31, while Korte finished in 58th with a time of 19:41. Four other Viking runners finished in within nine spots of each other. Michael and Rozeski finished 82nd and 83rd, both posting times of 20:25. Lexovsky came in just two seconds behind them in 85th place with a time of 20:27. Hammons came in 87th at 20:36, and Holmes rounded out the bunch in 90th at 20:43.
The Vikings will continue working hard and look forward to the next race on Sept. 28 at the All-Ohio Championship in Cedarville, Ohio.